A SURE thing: Alumni discuss benefits of undergraduate research

Cecily Basquin '16 and Sabrina Campelo '18 spoke about the importance of their undergraduate research experience at a second luncheon for the Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) program.

As Elon’s 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) program reaches its midway point, alumni returned to campus Monday to discuss undergraduate research at Elon and its impact on their careers.

Cecily Basquin ’16 and Sabrina Campelo ’18 spoke at SURE’s second luncheon of the summer. 

Basquin, currently pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, participated in SURE for two summers while at Elon. Working with faculty advisor Meredith Allison, professor of psychology and director of undergraduate research, Basquin researched the accuracy and misunderstandings that occur in eyewitness testimonies between English-speaking police officers and eyewitnesses who speak English as a second language.

Basquin presented her research across the country and in Canada while studying at Elon. She said the experiences she had in the SURE program were priceless.

“Elon cares about each and every student and truly invests in the future of its students,” she said. “Elon taught me to think critically, be passionate about my ideas, to value my relationships with peers and mentors and – most importantly – to be intellectually curious through it all.”

​Campelo is now pursuing a master’s degree in medical physics at Duke University. While at Elon, she researched irreversible electroporation, a cancer treatment that applies an electric field across tumors, creating nano-tears on the cells and causing the tumors to die.

On Monday, Campelo offered advice to SURE participants about what they can take away from the experience and how it can help them develop as presenters.

“If you have the opportunity to give oral presentations, I strongly encourage you to take any and every opportunity,” Campelo said. “Practicing and giving presentations is a great way to become more comfortable.”

SURE offers student researchers the chance to earn a stipend while spending eight weeks working full-time on a project in collaboration with a faculty mentor with substantial and recognized expertise in the discipline. The purpose of the SURE program is to enhance learning opportunities for students while encouraging collaboration in learning and research between faculty and students.

​This year’s class of SURE student researchers is focused on a wide range of topics.

Junie Burke ’20, a human service studies and strategic communications major, is researching the availability of psycho-social resources for pediatric cancer patients. Burke is mentored by Cindy Fair, the Watts/Thompson professor of public health studies and human service studies, and she called the experience unforgettable.

“Learning in a classroom is one thing, but putting your major into real life is another,” she said. “SURE has allowed me to apply it and also make a difference in my sector.”

​Maeve Riley ’20, an English literature and drama and theatre studies major, is researching the roles of women during the economic boom of Ireland in the 1990s. Riley, an Elon College Fellow, is mentored by Associate Professor of English Scott Proudfit and said she sees the SURE program as an opportunity to give special attention to the topics that interest her most.

“During the semester, it’s really difficult to focus on your research, and you really need to focus in order to make something very concentrated and probable,” she said.

The 37 student researchers in the 2019 SURE program will continue their research throughout the summer and present their findings during poster sessions on July 24.

And, as the students continue to work toward their summer research goals, Cecily Basquin offered some encouraging words about the program.

“Elon prepares you very well for what’s ahead, and you’ll have developed a unique skill set that other students won’t necessarily have,” she said. “Take advantage of it. Seek out new opportunities.”